McLEAN, Va. — Gay and bisexual men in the United States are twice as likely as straight men to get skin cancer, according to a new study reported on by several news outlets.
One likely reason is that gay and bisexual men are three times more likely to engage in indoor tanning, according to the study to be presented last week in San Francisco at a meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, USA Today reports.
The study suggests that anti-tanning messages, most often aimed at young women, need to be broader, says researcher Sarah Arron, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.
“The primary reason that men and women engage in indoor tanning is because of the cultural association of tanning with a healthy look and overall attractiveness,” USA Today quoted Arron as having said. “We need to dispel the myth of the healthy tan.”
Tanning, whether in the sun or in a tanning bed, can cause skin cancer, including melanoma, the most dangerous kind, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s office.
For the study, Arron and colleagues first looked at data from government health surveys conducted in California between 2001 and 2009. Those surveys found elevated rates of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers among gay and bisexual men but not gay and bisexual women. They also found gay and bisexual men in that state were much more likely to engage in indoor tanning than straight men, USA Today reports.